Page 1

Dublin City University Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile テ》ha Cliath

21 Years of DCU Access Graduates




21 Years of DCU Access Graduates

Almost 700 students have graduated through the Access Service since its inception 21 years ago. Many of our graduates have gone on to do wonderful and exciting things, working in the world of Business, Media, Nursing, Sports, Engineering and Science both in Ireland and abroad. As part of a research project, we contacted all Access graduates from 1990-2008. We learnt from this that 96% were in employment, including 3% who were undertaking further study. Here, we would like to share some of the success stories with you by presenting a profile of just 21 Access graduates.

Name: Stephen Fuller

Programme of study: BSc. In Analytical Science Year of Graduation: 1997 Current Employment Status: Technical Officer, National Centre for Sensor Research, DCU I knew that my career prospects would be much better if I continued my education beyond the Leaving Cert. I had an interest in the Sciences, I always had aspirations to work within a research lab and a degree was a minimum requirement. I had also worked very hard for my Leaving Cert, so it would have been wasteful to not continue my education. My first day at DCU was exciting, even if I was a little anxious. I really felt like it was the start of something great. Myself and a girl from my Leaving Cert class started together, so we were luckier than most in that we had each other for company. I did also make some new friends throughout that first day and 17 years on, I keep in regular contact with them. I signed up to several clubs/societies during first year, however, I only maintained regular attendance in two - the Film Society and the Rock Climbing Club. My fondest memories of DCU stem from the nights with my class-mates - especially those of celebratory relief directly after exams had finished. I also have some great memories of practical jokes that unfolded during lectures and labs - things often seem a lot funnier in the midst of serious situations! My toughest days were those leading up to exams. Once they got underway, I didn't mind the exams themselves - it was waiting for them to arrive that caused me the most stress. No matter how well I had prepared for exams, I never managed to dispel the feeling of panic that I'd get the day before they started. During the year, there were times when I'd walk out of a lecture thinking that I hadn't a hope of getting to grips with course work. Whenever I felt like things were getting on top of me, I'd act out the advice given to me by one of my Leaving Cert teachers: drop everything, walk away and go do something totally unrelated, briefly. I soon realised that a clear head works wonders for the mindset and there's a lot to be said for 15 minutes of fresh air. I was unable to attend my graduation ceremony. However it was still a proud day for myself and my parents. I felt a great sense of achievement when I completed my degree. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Strike a balance between study and recreation. It's easy to get bogged down with studies. It's important to break it up with something that you enjoy doing. I found studying a lot easier to bear when I knew that I'd be outside kicking ball in 2 hours time or that I was going to be winding down by watching a good film and that helped me to be more focused when I was studying.

Name: Karen O‟Callaghan

Programme of study: Applied languages Year of Graduation: 2001 Current Employment Status: Secondary School Teacher I was interested in going to university because I loved languages and wanted to continue studying them. The fact that this course had an inbuilt Erasmus year also excited me. Plus we all know that you can get a better and more secure job if you have a degree. My first official day of college wasn‟t too daunting because I had completed an orientation with the Access Service. However I do remember cycling up the DCU Avenue that first day. I was nervous yet excited. I felt ready for the next step in my life. I joined the Conradh na Gaeilge society. I must admit though that my attendance was irregular due to socialising and working part-time - but it did maintain my interest in the Irish language. Some of my most memorable times were the chats in the canteen, studying in the library and grant days. There were tough times too. I remember one particular module that I just couldn‟t get a handle on. I found school quite easy so this was such a shock to my system. I‟m glad of the experience though because life isn‟t easy. It was a good wake up call. I kept plodding away and talked to anybody I could about this module. I constantly picked my friends and my lecturers‟ brains for ideas. I also kept reminding myself that there‟s more to life than one single module. I remember my graduation day well. I took my dad and granny with me. They were so proud. It was the first graduation they‟d been at. I still remember that walk up to collect my certificate. It was nerve-racking and I was afraid I‟d trip on the way! But of course this didn‟t happen. I felt like a celebrity that day being papped by my relatives! One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today I would tell them that college isn‟t all about partying. Do a bit of work every day rather than cramming it all in a couple of weeks before exams. Keep a balanced lifestyle and keep up with your hobbies. It‟s important to have time for yourself. If you can get the money together try and travel during the summer breaks because chances are you won‟t have three months off again when you finish college!

Name: Gillian Duffy

Programme of study: Business Studies Year of Graduation: 2003 Current Employment status: Novelist I had always been good at business studies at school so I thought it would be a good idea to study it at third level. My first day was slightly nerve-wrecking but the staff of the Access Department, headed by Maeve O‟Byrne at the time certainly eased all of my anxieties. It was exciting too, like taking your first step into a new, unexplored place. I also felt like I was really grown up - no more uniform, no more set schedules of 9am-3.40pm, no daily supervision by teachers. I was an adult so I had to act like it! I struggled with French during second year and there were days when I really doubted my ability. Step-by-step, I identified the academic areas I needed to work on; trying to focus on those, increasing my study period to ensure my weaker subjects got the attention they deserved. I talked to friends, tutors and lecturers who really want you to do well and utilised the library fully. Graduation day was really exciting. It was also a time to breathe a massive sigh of relief. My parents and family were really proud that I‟d achieved an honours degree. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting university today: Get involved in college life as much as you can – the social aspect is just as important as the academic side – but do make sure to keep on top of projects and assignments and utilise all the services at your disposal. People are there to help and they usually want to!

Name: Paul Bridgeman Programme of study: Bsc in Multimedia Year of Graduation: 2006 Current Employment Status: Director of a digital marketing agency in New Zealand During the boom in Ireland and the long forgotten „Celtic Tiger‟ it seemed that anybody could become a success and make a great living regardless of their skills and background. I wasn‟t content on just being carried through my career by the success of the country – what if something happened, like the economy crashed. To me, you needed to make sure you were top of the employment ladder and I thought that having a degree was a great step forward. With education you were employable; you had the opportunity of travel and live the student lifestyle whilst doing it. What‟s not to like! The anticipation of the first day, of meeting new people in an unknown environment was both daunting and exciting! I met the Access team, the orientation leaders and coordinators and as the „getting to know each other‟ games commenced I knew this was going to be fun and I already loved being in university! I was an adult now! I was involved in the drama society, snowboarding society (despite never snowboarding) and I was involved with the pool and snooker clubs as well as the music soc for a while. There was way too much selection but it was a great way to meet lots of new people from different walks of life. My graduation was a fantastic day. I had the opportunity to stand with my parents and get pictures taken as a „graduate‟ of university. This was not something I was used to! None of my siblings chose to go to university but having them around for dinner with the whole family – I really felt like the important person that day! I returned to do the Access summer school program three times, once as an Engineering student, once as a Multimedia student and again as a coordinator of the programme. The summer school was the best way to meet people that you knew were going to be your friends for a long time. The camaraderie, the events, the balls, the laughs and the tears led to great memories and every year the benchmark was set with that week. Final-year project submission time was definitely one of the toughest times. Although enjoying university, you didn‟t want to have to do another year because you messed up! The stress, the long nights, the attention to detail and the culmination of the previous 3 years of work led to some tough times. Hand-in day however – probably the greatest day you will ever experience. Friends and family helped me cope. If you don‟t laugh you will cry and having the right people around you is essential for ensuring that you get through the tough times. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today. University has people from all walks of life. Even if you think you are „different‟, „unique‟ or just „average‟ get involved with clubs, societies and open your mind to different people‟s way of life. To me, everybody is unique but you will have a hell of a lot more fun if you open up to other people and see what they‟re about!

Name: Darren Woods Programme of study: BEng Manufacturing Engineering with Business Studies Year of Graduation: 2006 Current Employment Status: Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Bose, Co. Monaghan From an early age I was positive that I would go to university as I felt this would allow me to create better opportunities in obtaining secure employment. The first day was daunting. I had come to DCU knowing nobody and coming from a small school in Monaghan, it was a massive change. It wasn‟t long until I fell in with a great crew from my course and I quickly got used to the hustle and bustle of Dublin life. I joined the GAA club immediately and also the soccer club. It was through these clubs I met most of the friends I would spend my college years with. Although I enjoyed these clubs, if I was given the opportunity to go back I might consider joining more varied societies to see if these interested me also. Graduation day was a mix of emotions. On one hand it was amazing to think that I had my degree in hand after four years of lectures, projects and exams and on the other I would be leaving behind all the lads I had lived with for those years, who I saw every day and had so many stories and experiences with. It was a very strange feeling to think that, after 18 years, my days of education were over and that I was finally facing the “Real world”. Project deadlines and exams always brought on a lot of stress. The engineering course was extremely hard but the fact that I was living with the lads from my course was brilliant as we all helped each other out with studying coming up to exams and were able to help each other with project ideas. We also took time to unwind. The most memorable days were those spent with the new friends I had made. I was never too far away from lads from the course and others we hung around with. We still meet up and relive stories of the experiences we had together. It‟s only now we realise how great DCU and university was. The course was hard but the funny stories were endless. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Don‟t get too stressed about university. There are always people there to help you whatever you may be struggling with. Enjoy it, it is nothing like school. It‟s a chance to make great friends and have the experience of a lifetime. I haven‟t met anyone who didn‟t love university and who wouldn‟t do it again given the chance.

Name: Gordon Hunt Programme of study: International Relations Year of Graduation: 2007 Current Employment Status: Journalist I had a career guidance meeting with a teacher who persuaded me to go to University. He was a massive advocate for the Access Service so he was probably the reason why 15 of the 30 or so lads who went through the scheme actually went to college. My first day of Access got the nerves out of the way; however, as a local Dub I had it easier than others as my two best friends started with me. I remember a few non-Access friends of mine were constantly amazed at how I knew so many people in the early stages of college – it was due to the Access early start really. And by the time of graduation, I remember the Access crowd were a substantial percentage. Graduation day was pretty cool. I think getting my thesis printed at the end of second year was tough. I had great friends, a very interesting class with a hugely diverse international demographic and very sound lecturers to help me through the tough times. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Get involved with Access. The projects I did with my friends, helping Access out in the local primary schools, was very cool.

Name: Leah Yeung

Programme of study: B.A in Journalism (2008) and M.Sc in Multimedia (2010) Year of Graduation: 2008 and 2010 Current Employment Status: Freelance - Television Production and Journalism University has become a rite of passage and I really wanted to have that experience. I wanted to make more friends, study subjects I was interested in and enjoy all the other perks of being a university student. Like most people, I viewed a degree as an easier, if not the only, way into the profession I wanted. The first official day at DCU was amazing mainly because the Access summer school helped banish any first day jitters or daunting feelings. During the Access summer school I had become acquainted with the campus and knew where everything was so on the first day I could focus on making new friends and enjoy the buzz on campus instead of having my head stuck in a map and getting flustered. I felt immediately at home because of all the familiar faces from the summer school dotted amongst the crowd and across the campus. Over the years I joined many club and societies. I loved the variety of opportunities to volunteer, being able to give back to such a supportive service and just how much fun I had participating in society activities in general. I was class rep and participated in Student Union events as well as working with The Collegeview. Looking back, I'd have loved to have joined the Caving or Frisbee societies but you can't do it all and I wouldn't really change a thing. The good, the bad and everything in between have meshed into one big memory for me. Now that I'm in the 'real' world some of the things I miss the most are having all my friends in the same place at the same time. In final year the quarter life crisis took over which was tough. The prospect of not being a student and that structure of my life being gone was hard to process. I just accepted that everyone was in the same boat and there is no right or wrong decision. I kept reminding myself how young I was and how my choices at the time were not going to be set in stone. I missed my undergraduate graduation because I emigrated to Canada for the year. Although it was a huge occasion, I had plans to go onto a masters degree in DCU the following year so in my head it wasn't the end of my time in DCU, but merely a break. When I graduated from my M.Sc in Multimedia, I was overwhelmed by the memories of both my undergrad and postgrad. I owe DCU my memories as well as my education. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today I would advise them to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them within DCU and outside it. They'll never have as much freedom and choice as they do now.

Name: Karen McGowan

Programme of Study: General nursing Year of Graduation: 2008 Current Employment Status: Full time Nurse while undertaking a Masters in Emergency Nursing in the RCSI I always wanted to be a nurse and university was the way to my ideal job. I was so nervous about my first day but my Access family made it so much easier having met them during the orientation before college. Coming from an island off Donegal and going from knowing everyone all my life to barely knowing anyone was a massive but welcomed change. I met my two best friends at Access orientation and we were together on our first day. College life really brought me out of myself. I joined the DCU rugby team for one season! I don‟t know what I was thinking but it was great craic! Since then I‟ve gotten into running and fitness in a big way. I ran an ultra marathon (39 miles) in Connemara this year and I‟ve also ran two Dublin Marathons and I swam the Liffey this summer. I was a member of the DCU gym and that gave me the push to get fit. The toughest days at DCU were the build up to exams. I dealt with them by taking each day as it came! I worked as hard as I could and studied in groups at times to change the routine up a bit. It was a good idea because we all kept each other going and supported each other through the hard times. My memorable days were probably in the library with the girls trying to get the thesis done. When I think back we were so lucky to have each other to keep us going. We had good fun in the school of nursing especially in the skills labs where we learned how to do our nursing procedures. Exam days were memorable too - the release you felt once they were over was unimaginable. Graduation day was very special for me and my family! I was so proud of my achievement and I know it would not have happened without the support of the Access service. All my family were there from Donegal and I was the first in the house to graduate. It was a very proud moment for everyone. I didn‟t want the day to end! One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today. Start making friends right away because those are going to be your friends for life! Don‟t be shy, everyone is in the same boat and is feeling the same as you.

Name: Keith Grehan Programme of Study: Business Studies Year of Graduation: 2008 Current employment status: Financial Reporter, Citi Group I was interested in going to university because I didn‟t feel like I was ready to go out into the working world. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to go to university. I can‟t really remember my first day. I had stayed on DCU campus with the Access programme for ten days prior to the start of first year. So I knew my way around the campus and I had also made friends from the Access programme so I wasn‟t really nervous. I do remember going into my first lecture and thinking to myself, this is completely different to school. I joined table tennis, badminton, tae kwon do and break dancing societies. Then in second year a group of us decided to set up the Access society. Coming up to exams was always tough because you are trying to remember so much and then if you got a timetable where your exams were really close together, it was quite stressful. I had great friends from my class and we were all in the same boat so we helped each other out. I had mixed emotions on graduation day. On one hand I had accomplished something amazing by getting my degree but then on the other hand, I was starting a new chapter in my life and I was leaving all the good times in college behind. So it was a mix of happiness, sadness and also a bit scary. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today. You have worked hard for your Leaving Certificate so you have earned your place in college. Make the most of it. While you are having fun, don‟t forget that your main goal should be to get your degree so make sure you are staying on top of work and assignments because if you do that you will be able to enjoy yourself even more. Don‟t be afraid to ask for help. College can be a challenge, so don‟t ever feel like you have to deal with it alone. DCU is a great college and there are plenty of tutors available to help you if you are finding a subject hard.

Name: Stephen Burke Programme of study: Genetics and Cell Biology Year of Graduation: 2008 Current Employment Status: Consultant with Morgan McKinley - Recruiting scientific staff for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries I was interested in Science from a young age and was particularly interested in genetics and cancer biology. I wanted to go to University to further my knowledge of the area - both out of interest and so that I could develop a career in the science/medical field. My first day was a maths refresher course provided by the Access Service. I arrived, had a look around and was quite overwhelmed at the size of DCU. Coming from a small school of around 300 students, I was surprised by the number of students walking around and the facilities available. I was a member of the Kung Fu club for my four years, and from second to fourth year I took an active hand in the running the club as secretary and chairman. I met some great people during this time, and have maintained an interest in the area since I left DCU. My most memorable days of college were actually my first weeks on the Access programme, which was a two week period spent living on campus prior to the first official days of college. This involved participation in various sporting and social activities, but also had a classroom aspect where we were given the chance to polish up any academic areas in which we felt we might have a weakness e.g. Maths, I.T. and presentation skills before starting first year. To this day I remain close to many of the people I met on this program, and I also met my girlfriend on the Access program in 2005 – thankfully she is still putting up with me to this day! The toughest days were probably in second year when the step up from school to college really became apparent. I realised that first year had really been about bringing everyone to the same level across all of our science subjects, but second year was where the balance between work and play had to be achieved and the course became very challenging. I was lucky enough to have a strong support network in terms of classmates and friends and the guidance of the Access Service. This helped immensely as when I had any problems I could get a variety of perspectives on how to deal with things. Graduation day was great; I arrived with my parents and was told by the attendant in the Helix that some seats were still vacant and that we could avail of those for family members who had not received tickets. So I had great difficulty sitting in my seat in the Helix at the initial stages of the ceremony trying to not look like I was on the phone to contact my girlfriend to tell her that she would be able to squeeze in after all! Following the ceremony it was great, all of our classmates got together for group photos and to grumble that our college days were officially over! After finishing my degree, I begun a Ph.D., but realised that I didnâ€&#x;t enjoy the laboratory environment as a career. My current job allows me to use my scientific knowledge in a different way, in a role which is different every day and remains interesting and challenging. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today. Find a balance between work and play early on. University is about getting involved in social activities as well as getting your degree, I would recommend getting involved in clubs, societies and events to enhance the college experience (without neglecting work of course!).

Name: Lorna Power Programme of Study: Bachelor of Business Studies Year of Graduation: 2008 Current Employment Status: Special Needs Assistant & Teaching as well as undertaking a part-time graduate diploma in Education at DCU with the goal of becoming a guidance counsellor in the future During my senior cycle in secondary school, university was a path I began to consider. The DCU Access programme came to my school to give talks and also invited me to DCU for student shadowing days. The information they provided me with was invaluable and made it possible for me to access higher-level education. University was not really an option for me before that because it was alien to the world I grew up in. Access gave me a taste for university life and opened up my dreams and aspirations for the future. The Access programme had prepared all their recruits for college life as we were required to partake in a two-week orientation programme held on campus. On my first day I already knew a few people in my class that I had met through the summer school which gave me confidence. Even though I was nervous I enjoyed the experience and felt as though I was a part of something important. I have so many great memories from my time in DCU, although my second year was by far the best. Our class rep organised a mystery tour around Leinster, by the end of the day the class had really bonded and I had made some good friends. I also think back to some of the amazing guest speakers that came in: the creators of the Lynx Click advertising campaign and the entrepreneurs that created Innocent Smoothies. The weeks leading up to exams and assignment deadlines were always stressful times. But when I think back I would also say that these are part of my fondest memories in DCU. When you work hard and get a good result nothing can match that feeling so it all pays off in the end. Getting though the tough days requires motivation and determination (also lots of coffee and good class mates that share notes). Access provided grinds and personal support which was a great comfort. Without a doubt my favourite thing about college is how everyone pulls together during these times to help each other out. Itâ€&#x;s also important to keep your goal in mind and you will surprise yourself. Graduation day was one of the best days of my life. My parents were extremely proud to see me in a cap and gown and the sense of achievement I felt was overwhelming. I was saying goodbye to the people who on the first day were strangers and on that day were lifelong friends. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Embrace it! If I am honest, when I look back I did not fully appreciate the opportunity I had been given at the time. I wish that I had made a better effort to mix with my classmates in first year and value the knowledge that DCU were supplying me with. When I began to do this in second year, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and my grades began to improve. The DCU Access programme has made all the difference in my life

Name: Catherine Carr

Programme of study: Journalism Year of Graduation: 2008 Current Employment Status: Media Monitor as well as some freelancing I always planned to go to college. I loved learning and anything I was interested in doing required me to get a degree. My first day was an absolute dream. I already knew people in my class (and in other courses) having spent a week at the Access Summer School. I knew my way around, I felt at home and prepared. I was so excited to get started! I got involved in society life immediately. I started writing for the college paper; I made it onto the editorial team and worked my way up to Arts Editor. I was also involved in DCU Drama and took part in numerous shows. I even got the chance to direct Romeo and Juliet in the Helix during my final year, it was unreal! I also contributed to the college magazine Flashback and was lucky enough to be elected to the Foto Soc committee. Graduation day was very bittersweet. Obviously it was a great feeling to know that my three years of hard work were about to pay off, but it was so sad to know the experience was coming to an end and that I‟d have to say goodbye to friends and so many other wonderful people who had shaped my college life. It was like leaving home. I think the Access Summer School was probably the most significant part of my three years there, for the sheer fact that it got me off to such a good start and gave me the confidence to jump in to university life right away. Other amazing memories would be coming off stage after a performance, seeing the published version of the first issue of the college paper I had worked on or attending the Clubs and Societies Ball. Another great memory was when I got the chance to work with local school children through the Take 5 Access initiative. I was in charge of the kids who were interested in doing journalism at college and I got to advise and teach them. It was really an amazing experience and it was great to see how enthusiastic they were about the mock-newsroom I set up for them. The toughest days were probably exam time or the weeks when assignments were due. Juggling Clubs and Societies responsibilities with college work could be a challenge and it was always most stressful at those times, because I always wanted to give my best effort to everything I was doing. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Get involved in clubs and societies. Yes, your course work is the main reason you‟re there, but college isn‟t just about assignments. It‟s a place that nurtures you and a place where you can discover who you are, what you want to do and where you want to go. I did things through clubs and societies that I never believed I could do and it was such an amazing experience for me. Plus those extracurricular achievements are just as important on a CV as your final results are.

Name: Ameera Ahmed

Programme of Study: Electronic Engineering Year of Graduation: 2009. Current Employment Status: PhD Research Student, School of Engineering & Computing, DCU I wanted to go to University to advance my knowledge and gain skills for the profession I wanted to practice, being an engineer. I was completely terrified on my first day. There were a lot of people I didnâ€&#x;t know in new surroundings. We were guided by student helpers and I had made at least two friends by the end of orientation week. First year in particular was most memorable because I was able to experience a lot of different activities, abseiling down the gym wall with the caving society, the campus Christmas party and singing with the choir at University events in front of Gay Byrne and the DCU President. Final year deadlines were among the toughest days. Projects, difficult subjects, not much time for socialising. However, I worked hard. I learnt to use a task manager to structure deadlines. I tried to maximise relaxation time by doing things I enjoyed the most and I slept less. Apart from being disappointed at not being the top student in the class (distant second), there was a large feeling of accomplishment and joy on graduation day. It was particularly great to see my proud parents. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in University today. Enjoy first year as much as possible, participate in clubs and societies but Do Not skip lectures. That would be the beginning of failure.

Name: Deborah O‟Neill

Programme of study: Business Studies with INTRA Year of Graduation: 2010 Current Employment Status: University Programmes Coordinator at Google Despite the fact that none of my brothers or sisters went to on to third level, my friends in school and my teachers saw it as the natural progression after the Leaving Certificate. The CAO form was discussed in school and I began to view university as a natural progression for me. In addition, I had a burning desire to learn more about business. Holding the DCU Student Card in my hand for the first time on my first day made all the studying for the Leaving Certificate worthwhile. This card represented access to an unknown but exciting world of opportunity for me. At University, I was involved with DCU‟s Educational Trust and the Access Programme. In 2009 I represented DCU at General Electric‟s Head Office in Washington DC. In 2007 I was a Sport and Education Mentor to a group of primary school students from Ballymun. The objective was to introduce them to the idea that they too could attend third level. My most memorable days were those spent in the DCU Library, where I had lunch with my friends, many of whom I am still friends with. My toughest days were at the end of the last semester. My friend and I would work late and when the library closed at 10pm, I remember sitting in the corridor at the entrance of the gym to get assignments done! I regularly attended the DCU gym and found it to be really helpful to relieve stress. Also, I had a rule that I would do one fun thing at the weekend. I graduated in November 2009 from the Bachelor of Business Studies with INTRA and again in November 2010 from the Masters in Human Resource Management. A couple of hours before my graduation, I attended an awards ceremony in the Business School. One of the team assignments that I had worked on achieved first place in a year-long Strategic Management Airline Simulation project. The winners were selected by the Leinster Society of Chartered Accountants. The graduation itself was beautiful. My parents were so proud and excited to see me in my cap and gown, accepting my degree and shaking the President‟s hand on stage. That day was more of a celebration for my parents. A day to recognise the support they had given me throughout university. My Masters was challenging but enjoyable because I was studying a topic I had a passion for. My memory of that graduation day was seeing my lecturers in the Helix, in their robes. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Ensure that you obtain an internship with a reputable company every summer that you are in DCU. Do not spend your summers working in your local bar or shop. Try to make yourself marketable by grasping internship opportunities as soon as possible in an area of interest.

Name: Declan Daly

Programme of study: Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science Year of Graduation: 2010 Current Employment Status: Post Graduate Researcher in the school of chemical sciences in DCU From an early age I realised that the more educated you are, the greater number of job opportunities available. Going to university was a no-brainer. I was excited attending my first lecture, it was definitely very different to secondary school. I met my new classmates, some I am still close friends with now. The most memorable days were the social events such as the Fresher, Halloween and summer balls. Exam time is a pretty tough/stressful time of the year. I was always organised, I studied well throughout the year, I didnâ€&#x;t cram everything in two weeks before I was going to sit the exam. Graduation day was a proud day for me and my family. The hard work finally paid off. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today It is important to mix social and academic activities. I met some of my closest friends at university, but in saying that you are at university to learn, so try to attend all lectures. From personal experience the more lectures you attend, the better grades you obtain.

Name: Noel Carroll Programme of Study: Education and Training Year of Graduation: 2010 Current Employment Status: Post-graduate student at NUIM: Community Education Equality & Social Activism My reason for going to university was to gain experience and different views of the world. I am also the first member of my family to attend university and I wanted to have a career and not just a job. I wanted to work at something I loved not just to survive and I felt a university degree could help me to do that. My first day was very scary. I had been out of school for a few years and was nervous about returning. However because of the Access summer school I made friends and had them to help me through the first few weeks. I joined societies like caving, SVP, UNICEF and swimming. However I did most of my volunteer work outside of college in local youth clubs. I missed my graduation day as I was working on a youth worker exchange in Zambia. This also came about because of Access - I won the Access travel award with EIL in 2009 and because of this I got to work with the National Youth Council of Ireland and was chosen as part of their team to travel to Zambia. I loved DCU and had so many good times there. I really enjoyed the shadowing days with Access as I got to give secondary school students a sense of what university life was like. I also enjoyed the summer breaks and Halloween balls. I did find it financially tough and around exams it was very stressful. Access were a great help with every problem I ever had at university, I felt I had my very own support team that helped me every step of the way. Itâ€&#x;s easy to deal with problems when you have a team like that behind you. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today. Enjoy every moment you have at university as it will be over before you know you it. And never say no to a new opportunity. They can change your life forever.

Name: David Kinsella

Programme of Study: Mechatronic Engineering Year of Graduation: 2011 Current Employment Status: Hoping to begin a post-graduate programme in November 2011 I always wanted to be an architect or engineer (or a professional footballer but that didn‟t happen) with a love for drawing and making things. When I was younger I drew cartoons, designed comic books, built Meccano and Knex. It was obvious from a young age what my interests were and DCU was only down the road from me, so I had to take the opportunity. I had completed a week‟s orientation with the Access service the week before starting college. So all my nerves were gone and I knew what to expect from the talks we received from current students and Access staff. I met people during the orientation week so I knew a good few people although nobody else from my secondary school was in my course. I thoroughly enjoyed my first day of university, OK maybe I was still slightly nervous, but I was also excited to get started and experience university life. I joined as many clubs and societies as I could including soccer, GAA, snowboarding and surfing but I eventually concentrated on one society, DCU Men‟s Soccer. I represented the Fresher‟s and Senior squads from first year onwards, taking part in competitions all over Ireland. It was great fun. I loved going to the university balls, they were great nights with friends. My course was quite labour intensive so it was nice to have a night out organised for you and an excuse to take a well deserved break from study. My toughest days would have to have been the final weeks coming up to the end of the term as all assignments were due and you just want to concentrate on studying for the exams. I dealt with it by knuckling down and getting assignments handed in on time and then concentrating on exams. Everyone says start early and you won‟t put yourself in a position where you are stressed but it‟s hard to do. I said it every year up until final year which was when I had no choice but to hit the ground running - but the main thing is not to get stressed out. Relax and everything else will fall into place. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today: Don‟t be too nervous. Obviously you will be nervous as you‟re entering a new world, possibly not knowing anybody and not knowing what‟s around the corner but it will be the most exhilarating part of your life. I promise you. Enjoy it while you can……. I miss it already.

Name: Leylah Mohammed

Programme of Study: International Relations Year of Graduation: 2011 Current Employment Status: Interning with Atlantic Philanthropies I wanted to go to university to have a better chance at employment and to gain knowledge and understanding of different issues. Because I had been to DCU two weeks prior to the first day for the Access Week, the first day I felt like I had been in DCU all along. I have had such an amazing time in DCU that singling out one memorable moment is rather difficult. However, while I was writing my thesis and wishing the library stayed opened 24/7 would be most memorable. Not a very good thing at the time but now it is. I cannot wait for the graduation ceremony in November 2011; the thought of it gives me unimaginable joy. As getting through college was not easy. When I was struggling with some modules and finances, I spoke to the Access Office and they were very understanding. I could not have gone through college without their help. THANK YOU DCU ACCESS One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today: Manage your time wisely. Books and partying should not out balance the other. For some, college is freedom, but with freedom comes responsibilities.

Name: Kevin O'Flynn Programme of Study: B.Eng in Mechatronics Engineering Year of Graduation: 2011 Current Employment Status: Project Development Engineer: Jaguar Land Rover I have always had an interest in engineering. From a young age I was curious about how engineers create things in order to try and improve the world around them. Going to university was the most logical option to bring my engineering knowledge up to a professional level and attempt to contribute to the world in the way that so many engineers before me have done. My first day in DCU was at the week-long Access summer school. This provided a springboard as it gave us a chance to learn more about DCU before actually beginning our courses. At first, DCU seemed like a daunting place but I quickly realised that everyone was really nice and more than willing to help. It was easy to meet people and strike up conversation because we were all in the same boat together. We got a chance to meet some of our soon-to-be lecturers and this really helped us relax about the prospect of actually starting. In first year I joined many clubs to give myself the chance to meet as many people as I could. Inevitably, trying to find the time to attend everything was impossible. What I did make it to though was always good. The Games Society holds weekly gaming sessions and they have a prominent spot on days such as the Open Day and clubs and socs day. I didn't always have to join societies to enjoy their events though. The Music Soc holds Battle of the Bands nights in the venue and the charity auctions held by the St. Vincent de Paul society are always a laugh. The GAA mystery tour is an event not to be missed also. My most memorable days in DCU are the nights in the bar and going to the balls held by the SU. Events such as the Summer Ball and Rag Week hold memories that will be treasured for years. I'll always treasure the simple things as well though, days spent lazing about with my friends or just having a laugh over lunch will always stay with me. I think that the toughest days in DCU are the study periods in January and May. We sometimes had five or six exams to study for at a time so we had a lot of material to cover in a short period. However, by far the most difficult thing I had to do throughout my four years was my final year project. The project is carried out over your entire final year and comprises a substantial portion of your degree so it is extremely important. Coming up to the deadline, I spent many late nights going over material and trying to get every last detail absolutely correct before I felt happy enough to hand in the final product. Planning ahead was always key to getting through these times. The workload at the beginning of a study period or major project may seem like an unconquerable mountain of work. Early on I had to learn how to split a large task into more sizeable chunks. Correct timetabling and planning was fundamental to any successful project I was a part of over my four years in DCU. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today: Learn the correct balance between work and play. Try not to compromise your studies by going out. At the same time however, try to make the most of your time because four years go by in a flash. If you're fed up in the middle of an assignment, just remember that the hard work will pay off and it will feel so much better handing in an assignment you've really put effort into over a half attempted one. Plus, you'll always remember the good times over the bad.

Name: Sheree Walsh

Programme of Study: Languages for International Communication - French and Spanish Translation strand Year of Graduation: 2011 Current Employment Status: Customer relations specialist at Zynga Game Ireland I realised from the very end of school that language was an area that could be nurtured from a hobby into a profession, but the only way to accomplish this would be with a qualification from a recognised institution. The first day at university was exciting - there was a lot of running around and different people. One thing I will never forget is the vibrant and energetic atmosphere on campus. The lecturers were as excited to meet us as we were to meet them. In four years there were many great times to be remembered, but if I had to choose, Access summer school was my first experience of university and I met people with whom I still have a great bond. This set the bar for the rest of my university days. Iâ€&#x;ll never forget the first and last presentations. As well as the day I handed in my dissertation (and then spent several days nursing my tired brain!). Dealing with deadlines at the beginning was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn and meant many sleepless nights. There were also times when things outside of university life were incredibly testing, so learning to overcome these times and progress through university taught me a lot. I had the great support of the staff at my disposal which was tremendously helpful. The best thing I did was reach out to the people at DCU who I trusted most, my friends and my course chairpersons as well as the Access service. It was very reassuring to know that there was always someone who I could confide in to help me get on with things. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today: Keep going! The going gets tough but the feeling of achievement the day you get your results is something that you cannot get anywhere else in life. DCU is just the beginning and no matter what you do outside of here, you always end up thinking of what you did at DCU and realise how valuable your time there really was.


Name: Karina Korotkevica

Programme of Study: Economics Politics & Law Year of Graduation: 2011 Current Employment Status: Master in Law, Trinity College, Dublin. I wanted to go to DCU because it has a very good reputation and offers excellent supports to students. The staff are very professional and well qualified. There is a good choice of courses and programmes available. I felt a bit nervous on my first day. The first impression was really good, everybody seemed very friendly and helpful. There were a lot of student volunteers to help. I came home very enthusiastic and full of ambition and energy. I really enjoyed Freshers week. Clubs and Societies Day was great, there was a lot of fun and free gifts form different societies. I joined the Boxing Club and the Russian Society. My most memorable days were my first day and my last exams day. But actually all my days spent in DCU were great. Exam period was the toughest time, but I tried to concentrate and study hard and avoided disruptions. I think the supports available to DCU students are great, especially from the Access Service. The people in the Access Service are so nice, friendly and helpful. They deal with each student's case individually, they are non-judgemental and understanding. Apart from financial help, you can always come for any advice or just chat about your problem with the Access Service staff. I had a really good experience and I really appreciate all the help given to me. Also I found the Interfaith Centre really helpful, especially Fr. Joe Jones. He helped me a lot and managed to cover some of my travel expenses to Latvia for the "Volunteers and Volunteering in Latvia" Seminar devoted to the Year of European Volunteering 2011, where I represented Ireland and DCU. One piece of advice I would give to a student starting in university today Concentrate for what you came for. Do not waste your time, believe in yourself and always try to harmonise and manage your work, study and private life. Always try and go for what you are interested in.

21 Years of DCU Access Graduates  

21 Years of DCU Access Graduates Dublin City University

21 Years of DCU Access Graduates  

21 Years of DCU Access Graduates Dublin City University